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Mikhail Shishkin

Mikhail Shishkin

Internationally bestselling author

Mikhail Shishkin is one of the most celebrated Russian authors today.

Born in 1961 in Moscow, he worked as a school teacher and journalist. In 1995 he moved to Switzerland, where he worked as a Russian and German translator within the Immigration Department and specifically with Asylum Seekers. 

His writing debut in 1993, Calligraphy Lesson, a short story translated into French and Finnish, has won him the Prize for the Best Debut of the Year. Since then his works – both fiction and non-fiction – have been translated into ca 40 languages and have received a large number of prestigious national and international awards, including Haus der Kulturen der Welt International Literature Award (2011), Premio Strega Europeo 2022, the Russian Booker Prize (2000), the National Bestseller Prize (2006), the Big Book Award (2006, 2011) and many others. Today Shishkin is a fearless critic of Putin’s regime and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. 

Mikhail Shishkin’s prose fuses the best of the Russian and European literary traditions. The richness and sophistication of the language, the unique rhythm and melody of a phrase, the endless play with words and the nuanced psychological undercurrent are reminiscent of Nabokov and Chekhov. The change of narration styles and narrators within a text yield a fragmented, mosaic structure of composition that focuses on the language itself, recalling James Joyce’s genius. 

The author's website:

One of the most prominent names in modern Russian literature.

— Publishers Weekly


[Shishkin] takes Nabokov's remarkable linguistic flexibility but none of his arrogance; like Chekhov, he looks on humanity with humor and compassion. Shishkin's Baroque turns of phrases seem written out of necessity and joy rather than pretention; he respects his readers, he delights in language, and he does not need to show off.

— The Quarterly Conversation


If someone in this world has the right to claim the title of “the Sun of Russian Literature” it should be Mikhail Shishkin. <…> As soon as he finishes writing, delightful reviews and awards immediately follow. After that - a new plunge into creative vortex until the next triumphant emersion.

— Expert


Shishkin proves to be one of the most gifted authors of the Russian literary stage, especially because he manages to disregard fashion and create his own style and literary concept.

— Neue Zürcher Zeitung


Shishkin’s agile, inventive narration reveals his homeland anew, showing once again why he has become one of Russia’s most valued storytellers - and an important new author in the West.

— Literalab

Selected books

2019 — My Russia: War or Peace?, essays (in German)

2019 — A letter on the snow. Three essays. Robert Walser, James Joyce, Vladimir Sharov, essays

2017 — Half–Belt Overcoat, short stories, essays

2010 — Letterbook aka The Light and the Dark, novel

2005 — Maidenhair, novel

2002 — Tracing Byron and Tolstoy in the Alps, novel

2000 — The Seizure of Izmail, novel

1999 — Russian Switzerland, essays

1993 — Calligraphy Lesson, short story

1993 — One Night Befalls Us All aka Larionov’s Notes, novel

2019 — Dead Souls, living Noses. An Introduction into the Russian Culture History / Tote Seelen, lebende Nasen. Eine Einführung in die russische Kulturgeschichte, essays

2002 — Montreux-Missolunghi-Astapovo, Tracing Byron and Tolstoy, a literary walk from Lake Geneva to the Bern Alps / Montreux-Missolunghi-Astapowo, Auf den Spuren von Byron und Tolstoi, essays

Literary awards

Premio Strega Europeo 2022

Shortlisted for Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2013

Haus der Kulturen der Welt International Literature Award 2011

The Big Book Award 2011

Halpérine-Kaminski Prize for the Best Translation 2007

Shortlisted for Giuseppe Berto Prize 2007

Grinzane Cavour Prize 2007

The Best Foreign Book of the Year of the 21st Century (China)

Shortlisted for Bunin Literary Award 2006

The Big Book Award 2006

Shortlisted for Andrei Belyi Literary Award 2006

The National Bestseller Prize 2005

The Best Foreign Book of the Year (France) 2005

Main Literary Prize of Zürich 2002

The Russian Booker Prize 2000

Globus Prize 2000

Literary Prize of Canton Zürich 2000

The Best Russian Debut of the Year 1994

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